How to Use the “Real Time” Law School Practice Exams

We recently got asked a question about how best to use the on-line “Real Time” practice exams that we now have available. This is a good question for which we have a pretty definitive answer. First we’ll explain what these exams are, then explain how to use them.

After we wrote the book, our friends at Wolter-Kluwers send the manuscript out to lots of people for input: professors, legal writing instructors, academic support personnel, and mostly . . . students. We got a lot of praise, a lot of good suggestions, and one overriding comment. Students are hungry, they all told us, for more examples and more feedback. We were not surprised, we hear this all the time from our own students. So, we thought and thought about how to provide it. In part we beefed up examples in the book, and in The Commons – to which everyone gets free access with the book – we have answers to those examples.

What we ultimately came up with is what we call the “Real Time” suite of practice exams. We went to seventeen great professors all over the country and asked them to help out. Each one of them took a real exam, and drafted a model answer. Then, they annotated the exam itself to show how and where it was that students were to spot issues or analyze problems. Then, to enhance the feedback, they took actual student exams (with permission from the students of course) and annotated those too, indicating where the students did things right, and not so right. There are several practice exams in each of the 1L subjects. We don’t think anything like this exists elsewhere.

You can see what they look like by clicking on the “Practice Exams” button on the home page or The Commons home page. You’ll find a Webcast about them, and some actual examples. There’s also a link to buy the exams.

Now, to the question: How best to use these practice exams. Notice, we call them “Real Time.” We do that for a reason. As we explain in Open Book, we think taking practice exams is one of the most important steps in preparing for actual exams. Imagine doing anything important without practicing first! Besides, doing practice exams helps you study what you need to know on the real exam.

However – to get what you need to out of them, you must do them in real time. That means taking the practice exams under as near to actual conditions as you can. Don’t just skim one. Read it, and take it. After you do that, read the model answer and see where you went right, and wrong. Then, go to the annotated exam, and see if it helps you understand how you might have done things better. Finally, take the time to look at the annotated student exams, which will give you a huge amount of insight into what are the right and wrong ways to tackle exams, where you hit bumpers and get points, and where you don’t.

We hope these practice exams are a great study aid. But we really do want to help you by giving you what seems most useful. So, we welcome any comments and thoughts you have. Just send us an email from the Contact Page.

Good luck studying!

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